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How To Eat More Fruit: Get Your 5 A Day For Better Cardiovascular Health

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Unnfortunately, most Americans are not reaping the benefits of fruit's bounty. Only about 17 percent of us get in the government-recommended daily amount of fruit-at least three servings-wtih the average American eating less than one serving of fruit per day. Here are some tips for getting in your daily dose of fruit.

Fruit contains a good amount of fiber, vitamins, and potassium, plus an extraordinary array of potent plaque-fighting polyphenols. These sweet treats should be part of everyone's heart-disease-fighting arsenal. In fact, fruit, and especially dried fruits such as figs-which are desner in antioxidants and fiber than fresh fruit-have a significantly higher quantiy of polyphenols than even vegetables. And like all fruit, fgits are cholesterol, fat and salt free.

Unnfortunately, most Americans are not reaping the benefits of fruit's bounty. Only about 17 percent of us get in the government-recommended daily amount of fruit-at least three servings-wtih the average American eating less than one serving of fruit per day. Here are some tips for getting in your daily dose of fruit.

  • Make fresh fruit and whole grains standard breakfast fare.  Add seasonal berries or dried fruit such as cranberries to your oatmeal (the heart-healthiest breakfast cereal). If you typically drink  orange juice at breakfast, switch to eating a whole fruit-this way  you get more fiber and flavonoids in fewer calories-a bargain that  both your heart and your waistline can appreciate! 
  • Try fruit for dessert. If you just can't go to bed without a little something sweet, why not try some dried figs? And no, I'm not talking about a certain famous fig cookie, two of which give you a mere 1 gram of fiber (not to mention lots of added sugar, salt, and  even some artery-clogging trans fat). Compare that to the real thing-what Mother Nature intended for us: to eat-two dried  figs, which offer a whopping 5 grams of fiber, a huge cache of blood-pressure-lowering potassium (348 milligrams), and a nice dose of bone-building calcium, with zero added sugar or fat. If it was good enough for Cleopatra, why not give it a try? 
  • Substitute fruit for fat in baking recipes. Mashed bananas or prune puree works astonishingly well in baked goods. They add moistness with fiber and flavonoids-but without the fat. If you're  not a baker, dried figs are a tasty addition to soups or legume dishes and add a hint of sweetness. 
  • Add figs or other dried fruits like cranberries, apricots, or currants to your dark green leafy salad-a delicious, sweet addition to spruce up the salad as well as give you a feast of antioxidants, especially if you dress the salad with lemon juice and an olive oil vinaigrette. 
  • Try fruit for snacks, as fresh fruit is ideal when you're on the go. There's nothing like a flavorful, juicy apple to take the edge off your appetite and satisfy a sweet tooth, plus it will give you almost 5 grams of fiber (and included in the fiber, a nice dose of that special brand of LDL-cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, pectin)-and all this for a measly 80 calories. 
  • Make fruit. easily accessible. Place an eye-appealing bowl of assorted fruit smack dab in the center of high-traffic areas in your house and be sure to grab a piece when you walk by. 
  • Flavor everything with vitamin C-packed citrus juice: fresh lemon, lime, or orange. For instance, carry a large container of cold water to sip on throughout the day, flavored with fresh lemon or lime juice and a touch of sweetener. 
  • Buy seasonal fresh fruit-it's refreshing, satisfying, and cost effective, especially in the summer months. Go for the colorful antioxidant-packed berries such as raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Cherries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, and exotic fruits such as papaya, passion fruit, and mango offer you fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, and all for a low-calorie bargain. 

© 2011 Janet Bond Brill, Ph. D. R.D., LDN, author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease

Author Bio
Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN,  author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease, is a diet, nutrition, and fitness expert who has appeared on national television.  She is the author of Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol In 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs, and specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention.  Dr. Brill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.  

For more information please visit http://preventasecondheartattack.com/ and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

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